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Tanzania May Have Invented the Miniskirt?! WHAT?!

TANISHA C. FORD | The Root   in  ·
February 19, 2015

In the 1960s, young women of all races around the world made the miniskirt a racy, fashion statement. The garment grew in popularity in the 1970s. The mainstream fashion industry claimed the miniskirt as a British original popularized by Mary Quant, owner of the chic London boutique Bazaar. Yet, when I was doing research on 1970s “Afro look” fashions, I stumbled across a series of articles in Drum—South Africa’s leading black lifestyle magazine at the time—claiming the miniskirt as an African original.

I discovered that the miniskirt controversy was part of a larger debate over questions of authenticity between African designers, models and beauty writers and their European and American counterparts. African fashion elites were fighting to shift power from a Western-controlled fashion industry and position the continent as an integral part of the fashion world. Similar discussions about race, geopolitics and fashion continue today as African fashion designers fight to gain visibility in the global fashion market…


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